Sunday, February 28, 2010

You Wouldn't Treat Me That Way

The blond twin has a Bitty Baby (official name Victoria, nickname Bitty) who is her baby.  She takes care of that doll like she is a real baby.

Last night we were having a rough night.  The girls were tired and just didn't want to cooperate when it came to getting ready for bed.  Everything was a battle.

When she said she had to get her baby ready for bed, we said, "She can sleep in what she is wearing."

She was horrified.  She said, "You wouldn't treat me that way.  She needs to get her diaper changed, brush her teeth and put on pajamas."

We just sighed.  She is really, really devoted to her baby.  She takes care of Bitty before she goes to school.  When she comes home, she immediately picks up Bitty and plays with her.  Most days you can find Bitty right next to the blond twin.

Some days she discusses how hard it is to be a mom.  She likes to ask me about how to take care of babies.  Her sister incurred the blond twin's wrath the other day because she wasn't holding Bitty's head correctly.

It's quite fun to watch her, so when she cried, "You wouldn't treat me that way" we let her take care of her baby.  After all, we still had battles to fight to get the brunette twin in to bed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

And Poof, It's Gone

This morning I decided I overreacted when I changed my email address.  In the heat of the moment I took the quickest way out rather than giving the AT&T team time to work on the problem.

After all, there are a lot of smart people working at AT&T.  It is possible that they will figure out what the "we've never seen this before" error message meant and fix the problem.

Then several people called to let me know emails they tried to send bounced back today.  I tried to log-in to my Worldnet account to see what was happening.  It was gone.  Just like that.  It turns out that instead of fixing the problem, they just eliminated my account.
 
Nice to know my instincts were right when I decided to just change my email address.  Luckily, I listened to them this time. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Only because really, really nice people stumble upon this blog once in a while did I figure out how to navigate the AT&T Worldnet service change. I followed the directions and links carefully.  I filled out each box and checked the box to accept the terms.  And then this message appeared:  We're sorry.  You're account is not eligible for migration at this time.

Sigh...

If I thought I was frustrated before, I didn't know what was coming.  I did manage to have an online chat with an AT&T representative who typed the encouraging words, "We haven't seen that error message before."

Suddenly, an AT&T supervisor called.  Yes, they called me.  I knew it was a big problem when the very nice man kept saying, "Let me talk to some other people and call you back."  I spoke with him five or six times in an hour.  Before we hung up for the last time, I asked him what happens on March 31 if they cannot fix the problem.  He replied, "Oh, don't think so negatively.  We have time to work on it."  I know he meant well.  I know he is really trying.  The problem is I didn't get a good feeling about the eventual outcome.

I thought about it for a little while and decided I couldn't wait to see what happens.  I changed my email address last night.  It's going to sound petty, but I'm a bit sad about giving up my email address.  I've had the same email address for 15 years, which is a lifetime in the IT world.  I've changed phone numbers more often than I've changed email addresses.

Of course, this is the problem isn't it?  I have had my email address for 15 years.  It's in so many places it will take me weeks to make the change over.  If I woke up one day and my email box was gone, I'd be totally screwed.  Yes, I do have some stuff in other places, but not enough of it.

Last night I started the process.  I sent an email to everyone giving them my new email address.  I spent a while trying to change my email address wherever I could.  If you think about it, your email address is probably hundreds of places.  Some you use regularly and others you only use once or twice a year.

It will take a full month before I can change my email address and even then I'm sure I'll forget some places.  It's just the reality of the situation.

If there is a bright spot to this entire situation, it's that I'm currently out of business cards.  Ordering new business cards is on my to-do list for this week.  At least now I'll be able to put my new email address on them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thanks AT&T, I Needed Something to do Today

Like many people, I have more than one email address.  My AT&T address is the same one I've had for more than 15 years now.  To help you understand how long I've been a customer, my email address is the same as my initials.  If you don't think that's amazing, go to any email service and try to do that now.  It's not possible.  You end up with some combination of your initials and random numbers/letters.  Yes, I was one of the first AT&T Worldnet customers.

So, imagine my surprise today when I received a pop-up window announcing that I needed to take action on my account as AT&T is eliminating my Worldnet service.  Now, most companies would have put a link to the site where you need to take action, but not AT&T.  Instead, the pop-up said, "Refer to the email previously sent."

Huh?  If I had received an email about this, I'm pretty sure I would have paid attention.

The only option I received was to call AT&T for assistance. 

I've now been on hold for more than 100 minutes.  Oh, I know the computer generated voice told me it would only be 60 minutes, but hey, what's another 40+ minutes in my day?  It's not like I have anything else to do.  Of course, since I haven't spoken to a customer service representative, I don't know how long it will be really.

So, what do I do now?  I'm 100 minutes into this mess.  Do I hang up and try again later?  It's an option, but there's no guarantee that later will be any quicker.  Do I hang on until the phone battery dies?  It's a possibility.  I do know that I need to pick-up the girls from the bus in 1/2 hour so I definitely need to be off the phone before that. 

What I do know is the message loop keeps talking about an email request to fill out an online survey regarding the AT&T experience.  I cannot wait to fill that out.  Believe me, I have plenty of comments to share about their "customer service."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Problem with Naps

The girls are tired today.  It's that kind of bone-weary tired that makes every word sound like a whine and everything a battle.  It's the kind of tired that makes me force them to take a nap. 

They don't go willingly.  They go because we tell them they must or else something won't happen.  In this case, if they don't go, then we won't go to a cousin's birthday party.  Now, we're going in either case, but they don't need to know that.

Most of the time I sit in a chair and make them close their eyes.  If they close their eyes for two or three minutes, they will be asleep.  They are just that tired.

We don't randomly decide they have to take a nap.  They have to be really, really overtired before we force the issue because there is a downside to it.  One the one hand, we get a little break from the whining and fighting while they sleep.  On the other hand, we pay for them later. 

It's the problem with naps at this age.  If they sleep for even 30 minutes, it means they won't go to bed at the normal time.  They will wake up earlier than normal the next day, and probably won't want to go to bed at the normal time the next night.

We either pay for it by having to put up with overtired children or we pay for it by having their schedule thrown off for a couple of days.

It's not an easy decision to make them take a nap.  We'll talk about how really tired they are.  We'll debate if we can make it through the day and just deal with it.  We'll consider alternatives like going out for a while to keep them busy or inviting a friend over to distract them so they don't fight all afternoon.

Today, there really was no other choice.  It has been a busy week and weekend.  We know they will probably go to bed later than normal tonight due to the birthday party.  We figure we'll just take our chances and let them sleep, especially since it has been a crazy week for the grown-ups too.  We could really use some quiet time ourselves.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Fearless Athlete

By all standards, the brunette twin should be the better athlete in our family.  The girl is strong.  I mean, really, really strong.  She's quick to pick-up any game and understand the rules.  She likes to play as much as possible.

The blond twin, on the other hand, would rather not play most sports.  She wants to sit on the bench and cheer for her sister.  She likes to work in the garden and play house more than play baseball.

As I was watching the girls ice skate this weekend, I realized that if they ever really decided to get involved with a competitive sport, the blond twin would actually be the better athlete.

She might not have the strength or desire her sister has, but that girl is fearless.  For her, it's all just fun. 

Last Sunday is the perfect example of this.

We put on our skates and walked to the ice rink.  The local park district flooded a couple of parks so we skate outside.  It's fun and free -- two of my favorite things.  The girls took ice skating lessons, so they both skate well enough that they don't have to hold my hands at all.  On the indoor rink, the brunette twin zoomed around like a pro.  On the outdoor rink, she stood at the edge, just frozen with fear.

The brunette twin wouldn't walk on the ice because it was thin and cracking near the edge.  She kept asking if she was going to sink.  I tried to talk to her about it, but after a while I just became frustrated and picked her up.  (Yes, quite a trick as I was also on ice skates.)  I placed her about three feet away from the edge on the solid ice.  Only then did she start skating.

The blond twin just walked across the thin ice and started skating.  At one point she turned to her sister and said, "Sissy, if we were going to fall through, Mommy wouldn't let us skate here."  She was happily gliding across the ice while her sister was going through all the doomsday scenarios in her head.

Even once we were on the ice, the blond twin skated with abandon, while the brunette twin fretted about every bump in the ice.  And, the ice was pretty smooth for an outdoor rink.  It wasn't like we were dodging craters. 

I put it all together last night while watching the Olympics.  I looked at my husband and said, "The blond twin would love that."  We were watching skiing and the competitors were doing these crazy, airborn jumps that made me gasp.  He just smiled.  We both know it's true.  While the brunette twin might be stronger and a more natural athlete, her fears will hold her back.  She would be standing at the edge of the jump trying to decide if it's safe or not.

The blond twin will just do it to see what happens.  What she lacks in natural athletic ability, she makes up in her fearless outlook.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Good Valentine's Day Present

It is well-known among friends and family that my husband buys really nice, thoughtful presents.  He does such good work that several girlfriends asked if he can take their husbands shopping.  Me?  Well, I'm still in training when it comes to buying him really good gifts.

So I guess it shouldn't be a complete surprise that he bought himself a Valentine's Day gift from me.  I discovered this last night as he was lining up the cards, candy and gifts on the breakfast bar.  He had his gift at the end.  When I asked him why he bought it, he said, "Well, I saw it and it was what I was looking for.  I told you I was going to pick it up."

True.  He did tell me that he was looking at it.  He did say he was going to buy it.  What I didn't realize was that he bought it for his Valentine's present.  I can only guess that he didn't think I had time to do it, so he did it himself.

Of course, my reaction the other day when he mentioned Valentine's Day gifts was, "We're exchanging gifts?"  I knew he was buying something for the girls, but I didn't think we were exchanging gifts.  I already had a card when we had the conversation, but a gift?  I hadn't gotten there yet.

So his doubts about my follow-through on that conversation were completely understandable. 

However, I do want to say in my defense that I did get him a Valentine's Day gift -- and it complements what he bought himself quite nicely.  Maybe this tag-team approach is the best way to make sure he gets a decent gift.

Friday, February 12, 2010

100 Days and Counting

The girls had a 100 days of school celebration.  One of their assignments was to fill in this blank:  100 times a day my parents say _____________.

The brunette twin wrote, "My parents tell me to clean-up my room 100 times a day."  She drew a photo of her cleaning her messy bedroom.  It looks just like her messy room with stuffed animals and toys everywhere.  She was smiling as she did it.

The blond twin wrote, "My Mom tells me to stop asking the same question over and over and over again at least 100 times a day."  She drew a photo of my yelling at her saying, "Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop."  It's a lovely picture of me yelling at her. 

I just sighed when I saw it.  She didn't draw a picture of us telling her we love her or that she's so polite or anything funny.  She dew a picture of me yelling at her.  She said the teacher laughed and said she tells her sons the same thng every day.

All I kept thinking is that we don't call the blond twin the drama queen for nothing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Color Career Counselor

Here's something just for fun...

I took the Color Career Counselor test after reading about it in USA Today.  It was shockingly accurate for my first and second career options.  My results are below.  If you take the test, let me know if it was as accurate for you.

*******************************************

Welcome Shari

The Dewey Color System® is now the world's most accurate career testing instrument.

This report based on your personality traits indicates your two most enjoyable day-day-day occupation skills. It’s a summary of the full report, the Color Leadership Evaluation 5.0.  “Studies indicate workplace enjoyment is the key to success. So as you read, consider only “Was I mostly having fun at work?” Disregard your present and past employer’s environment.

Best Occupational Category

You're a CREATOR

Keywords -- Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or places where they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.
CREATOR OCCUPATIONS

Suggested careers are Advertising Executive, Architect, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations, Fine or Commercial Artist, Interior Decorator, Lawyer, Librarian, Musician, Reporter, Art Teacher, Broadcaster, Technical Writer, English Teacher, Architect, Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Corporate Trainer, Author, Editor, Landscape Architect, Exhibit Builder, and Package Designer.


2nd Best Occupational Category
You're a SOCIAL MANAGER

Keywords:  Tactful, Cooperative, Generous, Understanding, Insightful, Friendly, and Cheerful

This very social type enjoys working in groups, sharing responsibilities, and being the center of attention. Fields of interest are instructing, helping, nurturing, care giving and instructing-especially young people. They discuss and consider feelings in order to solve problems, lead, direct, persuade, guide, organize and enlighten others.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Grown-up Fun

Remember when you were a child or teen-ager and you couldn't wait to grow up?  Remember how you thought being a grown-up was all about having lots of money and being able to do whatever you wanted to?

Where did that go?

In my reality, being a grown-up involves more responsibility than I could ever have imagined.  It's not just making sure the girls are happy and healthy.  In some ways, that's the easy part.

It's all the other stuff I never imagined having to handle.  Retirement planning?  Huh?  My parents worked for companies with pensions.  Even my banker Mom didn't sit down and talk to us about retirement planning when we first started working.  It wasn't a part of her reality.  For her generation, you went to work for a good company and stayed there until you retired.  The company rewarded you with a pension.

College savings?  Have you even looked at those college savings calculators?  The cost for two children is nearly overwhelming.  We've taken the easy route and taught the girls the Alma Mater, a song from our alma mater the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  We figure we'll be able to pay for them to go to a state school.  If they want to go to a private college, they better start excelling at some sport or academic specialty that will earn them a scholarship.

Add in to the mix taking care of a house, finding time to squeeze in the ocassional date night, making sure the vehicles are properly maintained, looking after aging parents, worring about various and assorted health issues, and I'm not feeling the carefree freedom I thought adulthood would bring.

I know it sounds like I'm whining, but I'm really not.  We're all healthy and happy.  We have good jobs, live in a nice house in a good school district, and have great friends and relatives.  All is well.  Really.

It's just that once in a while I want to find that adult reality of my teens where I would have complete freedom to do what I want when I want, and enough money to fund all of it.   

Knowing what I know now is the key reason I keep telling the girls, nieces and nephews not to grow up too fast.  Once you are an adult, you are an adult forever.  You can never go back to those carefree days when you're only worry was how long you could play in the backyard.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Leftover Candy Canes

There are many times that I miss their farm preschool.  I miss driving up to see the horses in the pen.  I miss watching the season's change on the farm.  I miss hearing their stories about the new baby animals.

At this time of the year, I really miss feeding the horses' candy canes.  We still have all these candy canes from Christmas.  They are in bowls in the pantry.  I let the girls eat one here and there, but we had a lot, lot, lot of candy canes.

In the past this wasn't a problem.  About a week after Christmas break, the preschool would send a note home asking for leftover candy canes as a special treat for the horses.  It was great.  I could get rid of all the candy canes to give the horses a treat.

Now I just throw out all the candy canes as they break or whenever I need a plastic bowl.  I've been known to toss them just to get the plastic bowl back.

It's not as much fun as giving them to the horses though.  Getting rid of the candy canes that way always felt like we were doing a good deed.   Next year I'm going to see if I can donate the candy canes.  After all, it's time to get rid of the Halloween and Christmas candy before the Valentine's Day candy shows up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Autism Study Retraction Hurts All Medical Research

When we found out the girls were coming, I started reading everything I could find about the latest medical research related to children.  I mean I read everything.  I realize the research changes as new discoveries are made, but I felt like I had to understand the current thinking to have reasonable conversations with the pediatrician.

One thing I never questioned was the use of vaccines.  It's not like I had some secret knowledge about vaccines, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks.  Of course, I don't blindly accept all vaccines.  I've written about how much I dislike the chicken pox vaccine.  And don't even get me started on the HPV vaccine.

Still, I was unhappy to learn that the Lancet retracted a controversial study linking vaccines to autism.  It's not that I'm questioning why they did it.  I think the logic is sound.  It's the fall-out that makes me unhappy.

My problem is that when this kind of stuff happens, it makes it harder for anyone else publishing ground-breaking research.  For more than a decade, an entire cottage industry cropped up denouncing vaccines with this study as the foundation.  For more than a decade, parents of autistic children thought they understood how their children's illness developed.  They had an enemy and rallied to defeat the evil vaccine empire.

What happens to these families now?  Everything they thought they knew for the past decade is now off the table.  It's the kind of thing that can turn your world upside down.

The bigger problem is it hurts all medical research studies.  Whenever something new comes out about a better way to treat an illness or a possible cure for something, we'll all question it.  We'll try to believe the researchers, but in the back of our minds we'll wonder if this won't end up being retracted some day.  The doubts will color every medical deicision we make for a long time.

I'm a big believer in replicating results.  I don't like to be the first person to try the new medication.  I want lots of follow-up research that supports the first, ground-breaking study. 

I don't want the girls to be used as test subjects for any new treatment.  I realize this might change if we're ever faced with a life-threatening medical decision, but for day-to-day stuff, I want a lot of research behind medical decisions.

The doctor involved will receive some sort of punishment from professional organizations, but it will never be enough to make up for what he has done to parents everywhere. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Self-Discipline

Overhead at our house...

Mom:  "Where is your sister?"

Blond Twin:  "Oh, Sissy put herself on time out."

Mom:  "Really?  Why?"

Blond Twin:  "I don't know.  She said she was bad."

Mom:  "Okay, I'll ask.  What did she do?"

Blond Twin:  "I don't know.  She wouldn't tell me."

Mom:  "Okay, please go up stairs and ask her to come down and talk to me."

A few minutes pass...

Blond Twin:  "She said she'll come down when she's off time out."

Mom:  "How long will that be?"

Blond Twin:  "I don't know.  I'm going to color until she comes down."

A few minutes pass...

Brunette Twin:  "Hi Mom."

Mom:  "Where have you been?"

Brunette Twin:  "I put myself on time out."

Mom:  "Why?"

Brunette Twin:  "I did something bad and I knew you'd put me on time out, so I did it myself.  You were busy on the phone.  I didn't want to bother you."

Mom:  "Okay, well...what did you do?"

Brunette Twin:  "I don't want to talk about it, but I won't do it again.  I'm going to color with Sissy."